Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

September 25, 1996
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Bright Stars and Dark Clouds
Anglo-Australian Telescope photograph by David Malin
Copyright: Anglo-Australian Telescope Board

Explanation: Did you ever feel like a black cloud was following you around? Well don't feel bad - this even happened to the bright young stars of the open cluster NGC 6520. On the left are the cluster's bright blue stars. They formed only millions of years ago - much more recently than our ancient Sun which formed billions of years ago. On the right is an absorption nebula from which the stars might have formed. This nebula contains much opaque dust which blocks visible light from the many stars that would have been seen in the background. The study of open clusters is valuable for many reasons which include the understanding star formation and the calibration of the distance scale of our universe.

Information: Thursday, September 26 - A Total Lunar Eclipse
Tomorrow's picture: A Total Lunar Eclipse

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